May 29-June 3, 2003
MDH Day 1:
Day 1, May 30, starts off with very nice weather. Little chilly in morning. Dry trail conditions. All five of us start off after carbo-loading
on bagels, Wheaties, and fruit. Scenery here reminds me of scaled-down
Riders: Randy Bailey, Brandt Bailey, Jerry Horne, Dan Mills, and Doug Jansen
RV Support: Richard Bailey (Randy’s dad)
Danny straight below after switch-backing around and down.
Mile marker post 88 was at border of Northern Unit of Wilderness Area.
Had to pay rancher off to cross his land adjacent to wilderness. Bikes are not allowed on the 1.5 miles of MDH in the wilderness area.
Jerry on Devil’s Pass.
One of several petrified stumps along the MDH.
Randy cruising along high up on a rim.
View near half-way mile post 49.
Doug on bench-cut singletrack.
Randy “power spraying”
Summary of MDH Day 1:
There was one (confessed) crash, where Danny caught tire
in washout. Some pretty nice road rash
to show for it. Jerry caught rear
derailleur on side of cut-in cow trail, bumping it into spokes, completely
sucking it in and wrapping it around wheel.
Had to pick up loose pieces off ground. We converted bike to single speed. Fortunately, we were only 1.5 miles from
RV. Unfortunately, it was all uphill,
and this mishap dashed Jerry’s attempt to ride the entire MDH in two days. Jerry was back online after running into
Medora for repairs and was able to get in another 20 or so miles later in the
day. Danny “hit the wall” pretty hard 35
miles or so into the ride and decided to hole up in Grassy Butte for later pick-up. I think he met the whole “town” while he was
there. Doug, Randy, and Brandt finished
the day unscathed. Doug and Randy
completed the first 60 miles of the MDH, with Brandt cutting out early with a
little less mileage. Just after crossing
the Little Missouri, we spent the night in the RV at
MDH Day 2:
MDH Day 2, May 31, starts off chilly, with heavy
overcast. This was supposed to be the
nicer of the two days according to forecasts, but it turned out to be a wet
one. I’ve read the stories of what
riding on Bentonite clay is like and thought they
were exaggerated. Not anymore. Doug, Randy, Jerry, and Danny started the day
Bombing down ribbon of singletrack. Day 2 was characterized by long sustained climbs followed by long flowing descents. Lots of fun and very fast. Note the clear skies are receding on the horizon.
Danny coming up one of the very scenic climbs. The canyon below is at least a couple miles across.
Singletrack along high ridge line. Very hard to stay on the trail because you just have to look around. Overcast is building. Light drizzle started at this point.
Summary of MDH Day 2:
The day started off dry and chilly. Used insulated long sleeve jersey. Saw first rattler ever in the wild too. Was riding 20 feet or so behind Randy, when Randy hit or nearly hit the rattler coiled up in trail. He never saw it, but he startled it, it moved into defensive position, and I barely missed it myself. Was pretty good size, maybe a 3 footer.
Stopped taking photos once the rain started. Didn’t want to get the digital camera wet. A few miles before the next RV checkpoint, the Bentonite was getting slick. I came very fast down one of the descents, grade began to taper off and trail straightened out, so I let go of brakes. Only thing was, the trail was slipperier than ice. I went down hard at high speed driving knee into the rock hard clay (only top few millimeters were softening up). Took a while to get back on bike. After several more minutes of steady light rain, the trail became completely unridable. Jerry’s brakes were packing up so thick, his wheels wouldn’t even turn. With my disk brakes with greater brake-arch clearance, the clay was extruded to exactly the shape of the fork brake arch, or about 3” wide and maybe 4” around rim into spokes. Each wheel had to weigh at least 10 lbs! Even when we could ride on the more gravelly spots, the clay packed into drive trains would cause immediate chain suck. We pushed/carried our bikes to the next road, and fortunately the RV was waiting there instead of 3 miles further up like they were supposed to be. The wrong turn worked out in our favor. With about 20 miles for the day, we came up about 20 miles short from finishing the MDH. We loaded up the RV and headed back to Bismark.
driving up out of the
the disappointment of not completing the trail, the MDH was a very fun
ride. The North Dakota Badlands are now
on a short list of totally unique places I have ridden, ranked with Saguaro
cactus desert in
MDH Two-day Ride Stats:
11 hours, 56 minutes
4500-5000 feet climbing
Rail Trail, Deadwood,
4:33 ride time (14.35 mph avg)
Approx. 3100 feet climbing
6250 feet peak elevation
Standing under fir tree during first heavy down pour.
After first down pour, on 18 mile descent, same area I got caught in second storm on way back.
Many views like this on the Mickelson. There were also a couple of short tunnels through solid rock that I rode through. Trail follows a white water stream most of the way down, not quite visible on right-hand side of photo.
Tunnel “D” on the
Mickelson. Too bad they have to drape
the chain-link fence all over to catch potential falling rocks.
June 2: After a good night’s sleep in Deadwood (and all-you-can eat diner at
China Buffet in Sturgis), I headed off to
Singletrack part way up. The area was cleared by a forest fire several decades ago, so many of the trails offer open, panoramic views.
Lots of switchbacks here, and it can be quite rocky in places.
From the summit of
Looking back at
From ranger tower at top.
Snow near summit.
Looking down Ogden Creek Trail. Grueling climb, at times going only 2.9 mph. Had antelope run right in front of me, run up to cliff above, then stand and stare down at me from above. But before I could take a picture, he split. This trail, combined with a little bit of road up top, gains about 1800 feet.
Thoroughly enjoyed riding here. Never once encountered another trail user. Only saw rangers a couple of times. The
finished the ride with a 1600 foot descent back to the car. Started as fire road
bombing, then “expert” singletrack.
Way too much fun. Had the parking lot to myself (as far as I
know, not one other car parked there while I was riding), so I washed up right
there and packed the bike. Shortly after
3:52 ride time
Approx. 6000 feet climbing, most of it above 5000 feet
6656 feet peak elevation